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Intrepid is Recommissioned
Posted: 6/18/2014 9:32:18 AM

After World War II, Intrepid—like many U.S. Navy ships—was taken out of commission. Intrepid joined the reserve fleet with other excess vessels. However, the threat of the Soviet Union soon required an increase in naval power, and the U.S. Navy began re-activating Essex-class aircraft carriers. Between 1952 and 1954, Intrepid underwent a conversion program that allowed the World War II aircraft carrier to accommodate jets. A reinforced flight deck and elevators allowed more weight, while powerful steam catapults launched airplanes at faster speeds.

On June 18, 1954, USS Intrepid (CVA-11) was recommissioned at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia. In a ceremony on the flight deck, Capt. William Easton assumed command of the newly modernized ship. Following the ceremony, the crew and invited guests descended to the hangar deck for a reception. Among the guests were 75 men who served on the ship during World War II. Helen Smith Hoover, the ship’s sponsor at the christening ceremony in 1943, also returned to celebrate Intrepid’s return to service. She and Capt. Easton cut the recommissioning cake.

Helen Smith Hoover and Capt. William Easton cut the recommissioning cake. (USS Intrepid Cruise Book 1954–1955)
With the ship’s recommissioning, a new group of sailors became Intrepid “plank owners.” The term plank owner is an unofficial designation that usually signifies a member of a ship’s commissioning crew. But plank owner sometimes refers to members of a recommissioning or decommissioning crew. This plank owner certificate, a recent donation to the Museum’s collections, commemorates the ship’s recommissioning on June 18, 1954. Joseph Kulscar served on board Intrepid as a yeoman. His plank owner certificate is signed by Capt. Paul Blackburn, who assumed command in 1955, suggesting that Joseph Kulscar did not receive his certificate immediately following the 1954 ceremony.

Joseph Kulscar’s plank owner certificate. (Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Gift of Joseph Kulscar Jr.'s only brother. 2014.59)
We have very little memorabilia from the ship’s recommissioning, a significant milestone in Intrepid’s history. We encourage anyone with relevant photos, documents or artifacts to get in touch with us at collections@intrepidmuseum.org.

The Intrepid Museum thanks Robert Kulscar for generously donating this recommissioning plank owner certificate in memory of his brother Joseph.